Rockett: National retail struggles showing in Bossier

Stacey Tinsley | Bossier Press-Tribune

From iconic department stores to entertainment giants, the coronavirus has seemingly spared no one in its devastation of the U.S. economy.

In March 2020, the United States came to a screeching halt as the COVID-19 pandemic swept through the country leading to a nationwide quarantine. 

Falling consumer demand, reduced entertainment spending, and stay-at-home orders continue to take their toll on the retail industry that has been struggling for the past several years. 

Including here in Bossier Parish.

Just recently it was announced that Banana Republic and Gap closed their doors at the Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets. On Monday, Yankee Candles closed and All-Star Hats will close at the end of February.

Rocky Rockett, the Executive Director of the Greater Bossier Economic Development Foundation, says that with the recent announcement of the Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets store closures, he believes it is a broader-than-local issue.

“I don’t believe this a Boardwalk issue, this is more of a national issue with larger retailers closing many of their brick and mortar operations nationwide, much due to the pandemic. The stores are struggling to stay in business both local and national,” said Rockett.

Rockett went on to say that compared to last year’s numbers, he has seen an uptick in business closures. But it is hard to say if the closures were due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Unfortunately yes, it’s hard to say what businesses took a natural course and which businesses closed due to pandemic reasons at this stage,” said Rockett.

Even as the economy slowly reopens and businesses in our area close their doors, new businesses are opening up and construction is taking place here in the Bossier area.

“However, there is always a market where customers’ needs are met. Business will continue to search for that junction where needs and services can meet. We have a ready, trainable and willing workforce and space and in some instances capital that can assist,” Rockett added.

Seeing the hardships businesses have been taking and how it affects local families, Rockett would like to convey a message to the Bossier community for continuing their support for our local businesses.

“The end is most likely insight with the vaccines being administered. Life will return to a new normal, hopefully by Fall, and we can adjust markets and trends and begin to understand what the landscape looks like. Until then, we are all in this together and need to support our local businesses who have worked to adapt to these new norms with their online presence and their curbside services and hard work. These neighbors need our help and we should double down on them and help them with their investment in us as a customer base,” said Rockett.